Where were you and what were you doing when you first heard about the concept of Ebonics?
Me? November 1995. As it happened, I was on the MissingLink, one morning that month, on my way to school. I had the most recent dead tree and ink edition of The Spotlight in my bookbag, and I figure I’d catch up on some real news. One of the smaller articles was about a gaggle of black studies profs demanding that “black vernacular dialect,” as the concept was introduced, should be normalized. Though back in ’95, “normalized” wasn’t really a word, and neither was “problematic.” The very idea of a thing being a thing wasn’t a thing and wouldn’t be a thing for about another twenty years. Later in the article, it quoted the pseudo-academics as they dropped a word that I heard about for the very first time: Ebonics.
I thought to myself: “Nobody will ever take this shit seriously.”
More than a year later, December 1996, the Oakland School District board passes a resolution along the same lines. Off to the races.
Turns out people actually did “take this shit seriously.” Thankfully, the only kind of people that do are problacktards, pathological altruists, cucks, panderers, wannabe Michelle Pfeiffers, rappers, Can’t Teach for America program participants. Everyone else treats the concept somewhere between pejorative and ridicule.
So, when I read this, I hope none of you are thinking this is a brand new thing. It’s more than half as old as I am, and I would not be surprised if a few of you told me that this actually started in the late ’60s.